A blog for better streets and public spaces in Portland, Maine.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Drive less, die less.

Traffic-related deaths in the United States dropped to their lowest level in almost half a century in 2008, reports the New York Times:

Preliminary data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed a decline in deaths of 14 percent in New England...

The spike in gasoline costs last year probably contributed to the overall decline, officials said, because people ended up driving less. The number of vehicle miles traveled dropped by about 3.6 percent nationally, the safety agency found, after climbing for several decades.

But officials in several New England states also credited stepped-up safety programs, especially for young drivers, and enforcement of laws against drunken driving.
Maine's Bureau of Highway Safety credits some of the decline to stricter seatbelt laws: our state has 138 traffic deaths in 2007, and 129 deaths last year. Seatbelts are undoubtedly important, but Americans also drove 100 billion fewer miles in 2008 than they did in 2007. So drivers had fewer opportunities to smear their gray matter on the pavement, and the drivers who were still on the road had fewer opportunities to crash into other cars.

1 comment:

Corey Templeton said...

Interesting. I also assume that it is far safer to drive in urban areas due to the low speeds? Must be fewer serious accidents in cities (except for the highways).